Tuesday, August 30, 2016

8/30 On the Mississippi to end the day with a rainbow

We left Grafton, Illinois the confluence of the Illinois River and the Mississippi.  We headed south on the Mississippi River.  Old Man River, Old Man River....   That was in my head all day.

The morning was warm and there was haze on the river.

  It was very pretty though.  The current on the Mississippi is impressive.  We were going much faster than we normally do.  The rains over the past week have caused the river to rise and there is much flotsam in the water to dodge.

We passed the Spirit of Joliet, a true paddle wheeler, still at dock in the early morning.
The limestone cliffs towered on the Illinois side. 
The Our Lady of the River statue was on the west shore.  It was dedicated to Our Lady after floods in the 1950's. 

The tow and barge traffic on the Mississippi was even greater than on the Illinois.  Some of the barges would be stacked 6 deep on the bank and we would thread the needle to pass tows underway.
The tows out of service were lined up on the banks too.

We had two locks to go through today.  Both of these locks had two chambers, a larger one for big tows and a smaller one.  Because the water is running high, we went down only a few feet.  The lock masters said we could just float into the lock and float out when he opened the other end.  We did not even tie up.  But the first lock was filled with flotsam coming down the river.  Here are some pictures of the flotsam in the lock with us.  I had to push it away with a boat hook.  

The second lock was a different type for us, the back of the  lock raises up a metal can like thing that doesn't go much higher than the water.

Then we entered the Mississippi Canal.  The Canal was created to smoothly take boats around an area of rocks and small falls.  They want to make sure all boats, tows included, go to the left rather than following the Mississippi.
It seems tight in there when you pass a tow.

One of today's highlights was passing St. Louis.  Here is the old Union Electric Plant.  Look at how beautiful the structure that faces south is. 

Then we passed the St. Louis Arch, the Gateway to the West. 

John and I took our pictures from the back of the flybridge.

Not long after that we arrived at Hoppies Marina in Kimmswick, Missouri.  This marina is really just a group of barges tied together.  It is run by Fern Hopkins and her husband.  Her husband's father started it in the 30's.  It is the last place to get fuel for next 245 miles.  Fern gives a Captain's Briefing at 4:30 pm every day.  She identifies good anchorages between here and Green Turtle Bay.  She calls out areas of caution along the way too.  Fern is a wealth of knowledge, and in her late 80's.  

Kimmswick is a small town and has some renown.  The Blue Owl CafĂ© has been featured on the Food Channel and on Oprah.  One of their specials is the Levee High Apple Pie.  I walked to town and got one for dessert.  Will let you know tomorrow. 
On the way back from town, I passed the Anheuser Museum and Estate.  I didn't have time for a tour but the grounds were beautiful with dozens of horses grazing.
  Another home I passed had this intricate stone fence and gateway.

We had a good rain that cooled things off.  The end of the rainbow was over the Hydrophilic.

Lat 38 degrees 21.53 North
Long 90 degrees 21.61 West

Monday, August 29, 2016

8/29 Grafton, Illinois Rivers of Corn

Grafton Harbor Marina is a fabulous marina.  It was a lot quieter today as their regular weekenders were back at work.  The several boats that were here were either loopers or folks taking their boats on longer trips.  It was a good day to do laundry and enjoy watching the barges coming up the Mississippi and either turning left to continue on the Mississippi or turn right to go up the Illinois River. 

We got the oil and zincs changed on the boat, filled up the water tanks. measured lines, and cleaned lots of small items.  It was really hot out so it was good to have the air conditioning on in the boat to cool down, periodically.

One thing you have to love about these marinas is that they have courtesy vehicles.  You can sign up for the courtesy vehicle to run errands or go to dinner.  The vehicles are known for having high mileage and usually have a check engine light on.  The courtesy vehicle here was a Dodge van that would seat 12.  The mileage on it was 295,530!!!   It rode like it, too.

We took it to Walmart for some re-provisioning.  We had pizza and a salad at a place called Imo's.  The couple at the next table were behind us in the check out lane at Walmart.  It seems like we would know everyone in the county if we stayed here long.  Everyone is very nice.

On the way home, John took some pictures of the corn fields.
It reminded me of when we lived in Indiana.
In this last picture, you can see the corn stalks turning yellow.  Fall is coming.

Tomorrow, we head 60 miles down the Mississippi through two locks to a marina called Hoppies.  It is legendary among loopers and I can't wait to see it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

8/28 To the Confluence of the Illinois and the Mississippi

We slept soundly at anchor last night.  Our Rocna anchor is a wonderful sleeping aid.  We awoke early, raised the anchor, and headed toward the Mississippi.   This railroad bridge went up for us.  It was so calm that early in the morning, that the reflection of the bridge was clear in the water. 

It was a VERY hot day and we worked to keep our fluid intake up.  Thankfully, we can get some shade on the flybridge.

Today, we noticed how the area surrounding the river has been affected by floods.  We saw where this house used to be.
  This house was obviously rebuilt where another had been. 
These houses were built on stilts.

The limestone hills were created during the glacial ages.  Fossilized sea life can be found in the rock.  It is so pretty as we floated by.

People use the rivers similarly to how we use the Intracoastal Waterway and the bays on the east coast.  There were several car ferries going back and forth across the river today.  They are called ferries but they look more like barges and have a tow that pushes them back and forth.
We arrived at Grafton, Illinois.  Grafton is at Mile Marker 0 of the Illinois River.  We are staying at Grafton Harbor Marina.  From the back of our boat we can see the confluence of the Mississippi.  That is the Mississippi on the other side of the boats that have pulled up on the shallows. 
This is a terrific marina.  The people here are so nice.  The restaurant was having Poor Boy specials and I had a fried oyster and bacon one and John had a Thanksgiving one with turkey and stuffing.  We met other boaters cooling off in the pool.   We enjoyed telling them about the loop.

Tomorrow, we are getting an oil change for the boat and will take the courtesy car to get a few grocery staples.  Tuesday we head into the Mississippi.

Lat 38 degrees 58.09 North
Long 90 degrees 26.30 West

8/27 The furthest west we will go and SAT questions

It rained very hard again last night.  So after a few days of good rain, the river is running high.  We are not used to having the river current giving us so much assistance.  We can be going 8.7 knots on only 1600 RPM.  For us, that is fast!!

But with the current came the effects of the rain.  The water is brown and silty looking. 
There were all sorts of trees in the water and huge logs to dance around. 

Don't forget that we are still looking out for the tows.  John said it was like SAT questions.  If we are going 8.5 knots and the tow coming toward us is going 4.2 knots, when will we pass each other if we are 4 nautical miles apart?  Here we are meeting a tow as we go over a dam with the wickets down.

We saw some beautiful scenes in nature.  Today, I finally got a picture of an eagle, although we have seen many.
  It was a little unnerving to hear gun shots!!!   Each time we would see jon boat on shore.  Hunting and fishing are common.  Here is a fish trap that was outside the channel, thankfully.
The industry continues to impress me.  The Central Illinois Power Plant is just huge.
Here is a large grain operation.
Periodically, tows are lined up on either side of the river.

We went as far west as we will go on our Great Loop,  90 degrees 38.763 West. 
We anchored there just south of Big Blue Island on the recommendation of Bob, the owner of Tall Timbers, where we stayed last night. 
It was a beautiful anchorage.  It was just off the channel on the Left Descending Bank.  It was protected by the island and far enough off the channel that no tows would even come close. 

The sunset was stunning.  I posted this to Facebook because it was so awe-inspiring. 
It had been a real hot day and sitting on the back of the boat, I was treated to spectacular light show of heat lightening.  The tows work day and night.  Before going to bed, this tow went down the river.  Note that the red lights are in the front of the tow and the white lights are at the back.  It is impressive as it goes quietly by.

Lat 39 degrees 41.964 North
Long 90 degrees 38.763 West

Friday, August 26, 2016

8/26 To Havana, Illinois highlighting industry

Today, I thought I would show you all the industry along the Illinois River.  We still saw great beauty but it is amazing how much industry goes on just around the bend.  So today we say eagles, and carp jumping, and corn fields, but we also saw many tows.  Take a look at the two men on the front of this tow, they saw me taking the picture and hugged each other.

We passed Peoria, Illinois.  Here is downtown Peoria.
The railroad bridge there opened to let us through. 
Then we went to the Peoria Lock and Dam.  This dam is unusual.  It is called a wicket dam.  When the water is high, the wickets lay on the bottom of the river.  The lock remains open.  Instead of going to the left of the yellow concrete and through the dam, the lockmaster tells you to follow the sail line and to go over the dam.  The lockmaster seemed very calm but the thought of going over a dam seemed unsettling.  It was no big deal.  I couldn't even tell we were over the wickets.

We passed some tows that are called large.  That means that they have 3 barges across and 5 deep for a total of 15 barges they are pushing.

We passed areas where there are tows on both the right descending bank and the left descending bank. 

Here there were 4 tows stacked on the bank of the river.

The chemical tows are very long but tend to not be wide.

The plants are huge here.  They have barges ready to off load.

On land, they also have train engines ready to move the freight.

The sides of the river have been reinforced with levees.  It must be scary when the water gets that high.

We arrived in Havana at the Tall Timbers Marina. 
Havana was named for the city in Cuba, because the founder thought the island in the river resembled Cuba.  They have a large park on the waterfront.  A marker celebrates where Abraham Lincoln arrived here in a canoe. 
They also have a marker showing how high the water gets. I was in the parking lot which has been covered by water before flood stage.
The town is small with a two street downtown.

The Tall Timbers is a small marina but this view in their marina basin is so peaceful.

Tomorrow, we will be anchoring out about one half way to Grafton, Illinois.  That is where we will join the Mississippi.

Lat 40 degrees 18.34 North
Long 90 degrees 3.97 West